Listeria link found in Virgin Blue’s food poisonings


A listeria outbreak on Virgin Blue flights that forced two pregnant women into premature labour has been traced back to diced chicken from a country food company.

Wollongong’s GMI Food Wholesalers Pty Ltd, trading as Australian Poultry and Food Wholesalers, has been prohibited from producing the chicken product or any other ready-to-eat meats, the NSW government says.

Seven people, including two pregnant woman, contracted listeriosis, a bacterial infection, after eating chicken wraps on Brisbane-based Virgin Blue flights in May and June.

The women gave birth prematurely, but both delivered health babies.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said tests by the NSW Food Authority and Queensland authorities linked the diced chicken back to the Virgin Blue supplier.

“Laboratory analysis finalised this week confirms the link that listeria bacteria consumed by passengers on the Virgin Blue flights originated in the chicken processed at the Wollongong-based plant,” Mr Macdonald said.

“The prohibition order means the company is forbidden from producing or selling the implicated chicken product and any other ready-to-eat meats manufactured at the premises.”

“This order will remain in place until further notice.”

The contaminated chicken that was sent to Queensland has been located and removed, Mr Macdonald said.

Listeria can have an incubation period of more than two months and produces vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and severe headaches.